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Nantucket Reading

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

What we enjoy most about our time in Nantucket, beyond the ever-present beauty of the setting, is our time on the lawn of The Wauwinet reading books on their green-padded chaise longues. There’s never a reason to get up, unless the weather changes, since we can have lunch or drinks brought to us on the lawn, and the chaises are laid out in pairs with a table between each pair. Why leave? It’s quiet, there’s usually a lovely breeze coming in off Nantucket Harbor, and you have the most wonderful view from the southwest to the north of the harbor and Coatue (the miles-long barrier beach that separates the harbor from the open water of Nantucket Sound). The inn sits on its own barrier beach, running north from the inn to the point where Coatue branches west and continuing on north/northeast, a thin spit of land separating Nantucket Sound from the Atlantic until its terminus at Great Point.

Back in early June, I wrote about finishing Robert Crais’ latest crime novel, The First Rule. As I noted there, “Crais has been writing a series of crime novels since 1987, set in LA and centered on private detective Elvis Cole, with a featured role for his partner Joe Pike. The eleventh of the series, The Watchman, appeared in 2007, with Joe Pike as the central character. I didn’t discover Crais until Chasing Darkness, which was published a year later and had Cole back as the lead character. When The First Rule appeared earlier this year, I snapped it up.”

I went on to explain how much I enjoyed getting to know the Joe Pike character better. “I was sorely tempted to go back to the previous Joe Pike novel. The Kindle makes it so easy to act on such temptations. I could have downloaded The Watchman and been reading it within a minute. But I do have other things to do with my time, and didn’t want to be absorbed in yet another thriller so soon, so I resisted.”

As the summer progressed and I continued to resist, I eventually realized it would be perfect for Nantucket. A couple of weeks ago, in preparation for the trip, I finally downloaded it from the Kindle store. Yesterday, Gail and I made our way to the lawn, grabbed a pair of chaises, and I began to read The Watchman at last. By the time we headed out to the lawn this morning, I was two-thirds of the way through. I thought I would finish it on the lawn, but the weather changed. The wind has been steady all day, on the order of 15-20 mph. But then clouds moved in, then it got really dark, and at 12:30 it started raining. We retreated to the porch and Gail finally had me believing that the rumbling she’d been hearing for half an hour was indeed thunder. Within minutes, we were treated to the most exciting electrical storm we’ve seen in many years. This may well say more about the infrequency of electrical storms in Seattle than about the intensity of this one, but however commonplace this may be in these parts, it was a stunner, what with wide open views for miles over the water as lightning bolts ran from the clouds right to the whitecaps, striking every 5 or 10 seconds, usually in pairs or trios or even the occasional sextuplet. Once the lightning abated, the rain fell heavily, and I finished the book.

I continue to be impressed by Robert Crais’ fine writing and by the fascinating character he has created in Joe Pike. I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with a return to Elvis Cole as the central character in Crais’ next novel, but I bet I’ll enjoy it.

What next? A couple of weekends ago, I was looking online at the NYT book reviews when I decided to click on the still-featured link to last December’s selection of the ten best books of 2009. Among the five works of fiction was Kate Walbert’s novel A Short History of Women, with this blurb:

The 15 lean, concentrated chapters in this exquisitely written novel alternate among the lives of a British suffragist and a handful of her Anglo-American descendants. The theme is feminism, but Walbert is keenly alert to male preoccupations and the impressions they leave on the lives of her female cast. Walbert’s prose, cool and intelligent, captures the many ways we silence and are silenced, the ways we see and hear as we struggle to grasp hold of meaning.

What followed was one of those Kindle moments. I decided to read it, had it downloaded within two minutes, and turned to the first page, but just in time, I remembered Nantucket. Surely this would be the perfect pairing with The Watchman. I have since waited patiently, but now I need wait no longer. With the storm over and The Watchman finished, we had a late lunch here at the inn, after which I began reading. Which I should be doing now, rather than writing this post. Here I will stop.

Oh, one more thing. About that Kindle, if you’re going to sit outside in the sun and read e-books, it’s essential. Or maybe the Nook. But certainly not the iPad. The text couldn’t have been sharper on the Kindle, whereas the iPad would be unreadable. We have been using our iPads when we go to bed in the evenings. They have the great advantage that you can even shut the light and keep reading. Even though they’re a lot heavier, they have so many advantages. What I especially like with Kindle’s iPad book reader app is that if you hold the iPad in portrait mode, thanks to its larger screen, you see a very good approximation to the page of a standard-sized book. In this way, the reading experience is much more book-like. But it just won’t do outdoors on a sunny day.

Speaking of which, the sun is back. I really need to finish this post, close the computer, take my Kindle, get back onto a chaise on the lawn, and read.

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